Thursday, January 12, 2017

Roger Federer provides Perth with one of the most memorable events in Hopman Cup history

HE came, he saw, he didn’t quite conquer. But Roger Federer left the Hopman Cup having disappointed no one as he single-handedly provided Perth with one of the most memorable editions of the event’s 29-year history.

The champion veteran proved box office gold for the unique mixed teams event, breaking the crowd record for a tennis match in WA each time he stepped on court.

The mark now stands at 13,917, after fans packed into Perth Arena on Friday night to watch Federer’s third and perhaps final appearance in Perth.

Federer was in the box seat to deliver a dream final after he dispatched Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-4 in just 56 minutes, giving Switzerland a 1-0 lead over France in the virtual semi-final.

He fell short of the final after partner Belinda Bencic was defeated by Kristina Mladenovic in the women’s singles, before the Swiss pair lost the deciding Fast4 mixed doubles rubber 4-2 4-2 to the accomplished French doubles players.

“It was a wonderful week. It had to end here. The French were better, Kiki (Mladenovic) and Richard, they played great in the doubles and also singles I thought it was amazing Kiki,” he said

Having admitted that even he didn’t know what to expect after six months out with a knee injury, the 35-year-old Swiss legend will fly out of Perth today comfortable that he can still mix it with the best.

Federer recorded straight sets victories over Great Britain’s Dan Evans and Gasquet and fell to rising German star Alexander Zverev in a classic decided after three tie-break sets.

“It was a long, long six months I can tell you that, so to come back this way on to the tour here at the Hopman Cup in Perth I will also, like Belinda said, remember this week for ever,” he said.

Federer will spend this week in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open beginning on Monday week, where the world No.16 looms as a dangerous obstacle for the higher seeds.

The four-time Australian Open champion said his body had pulled up well and he expected to feel fresh for the Open. He said he felt stiff when he woke up on Thursday morning following the Zverev match but quickly improved.

Federer stopped short of committing to a return to the Hopman Cup next summer, saying he had to cross a big mental barrier to come to the exhibition event this year.

“It’s always hard to not play for ATP points. Because at the end of the day, that’s what I’ve done for 20 years,” he said.

“I think looking back in hindsight, it was the best decision I could take to come here and have a perfect preparation for the Australian Open and actually have some fun as well as I go along with it.”

No comments: